It must be a sure sign that the apocalypse is upon us…Latin ‘rap’ music to profile historical American figures and people standing in line to pay their hard-earned money (and lots of it) to hear it. Why can’t Hillary promise free tickets for that, too?
Like McCauley Culkin, I’m sitting at home alone this weekend while my wife and daughter are in Chicago to see “Hamilton”, the Broadway musical about the American historical figure, and first Secretary of The Treasury, Alexander Hamilton.
If you’re not up on these things, “Hamilton” is a tony-winning production written and performed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, which won 11 of 16 award categories at this year’s Tony Awards ceremony, and people are paying through the nose to see it. Example: Mindy’s birthday was this month and she boldly suggested, “I’d love to go to Chicago and see ‘Hamilton’. The tickets are only $800..for ‘good’ seats.”
I reeled backward like Fred Sanford. $800…to see a musical featuring Latin performers singing rap to portray one of America’s foremost founding icons?
“What’s your second choice?” I countered. “How about a new ceiling for the back porch?”
We settled on a third option, but what’s mine is yours, and what’s yours is mine in matters like this, so she took daughter Laynie with her instead…to Chicago…to see the play. Travel, lodging, tickets? That’s a whole lot of ‘Hamiltons’.
The irony of all this, of course, is my disdain for theatre, and especially Broadway. Irony? I have a degree in music education and performance from Ohio State University. Believe it or not, that’s how it all started…the first and so far only scholarship athlete to go through OSU while pursuing a performing arts degree.
I get this all the time. “How in the world could you have a degree in music and not like musicals?”
One, I’m a terribly impatient person. I’m being honest with you. I can’t sit still long enough to even watch a movie, much less Phantom Of The Opera while the consumption meter in my wallet is ticking away like DP&L.
Two, I was an instrumental major at OSU, trumpet, brass and the like, and never…ever…ventured to the third floor of Hughes Hall, where all the vocal music students hung out. In fact, the brass students had a philosophy about people who thought they could sing. “Sinatra can sing,” we used to say. “I don’t know what that is you’re trying to do.”
Three…perspective. To me music has to be real in its relationship to everyday life. For instance, I get it when marching bands perform at halftime. It’s expected. I appreciate the great instrumental works of Sousa, Aaron Copland, and John Williams, who ironically wrote many of the best soundtracks for movies…like Star Wars. But I’ve never stood on a street corner in Columbus and had someone come up to me and belt out a chorus of Oklahoma, just because he was full of song and couldn’t hold it any longer. People just don’t do that…and if they did they might get punched in the nose.
Four…personal limitations. For some reason Americans have become obsessive with the act of singing. All the reality shows on TV are about singers…The Voice, American Idol, The X Factor. In this day they’d kick Al Hirt off the stage. Everybody “thinks” they can sing. They can’t. If you want evidence of that just go to church on Sunday and listen to the person behind you. Make a joyful noise? Or get that deviated septum fixed? I learned early on that if I liked music…and I do…I had to learn to play an instrument…and I did. In fact, I can play a whole lot of different instruments. BUT I CAN’T SING! I used to be asked all the time about why I didn’t sing in church. My answer…simply respect for the person in front of me.
“God won’t mind,” someone once told me.
My answer: “He would if he heard me.”
Mindy tells me I’m just old, close-minded, and so hard-headed over new music, and musicals, that it makes her feel bad. I don’t mean to. It’s just a fact of life; I don’t know many men who would go see “Hamilton” without some dragging and screaming. And if they do…I don’t think they can factually state that they played Big Ten baseball at the same time. I can!
And if you really want factuality about Alexander Hamilton, here’s some. I know my history and the first Secretary of The Treasury was a conservative over matters of finance and debt. How conservative? Well figure it out. His picture is on the $10 bill…not the $100. To Hamilton, the proper handling of debt was necessary to borrow at affordable interest rates and be a stimulant to the economy. I think he might roll his eyes over $800 for a ticket to a production about him. He might challenge you to a duel. Which is how he died…at the hands of Aaron Burr in 1804.
I’ve always been an admirer of Hamilton in historical perspective. It took a brilliant man to do what he did for the financial stability of an infant country at the time of Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin. None of them knew a damn thing about money. Hamilton did. Which is why I think he’d be fine sitting at home with me this weekend, with a nice scotch by the fire…counting what ‘Hamiltons’ I have left.
I’d offer the following choice of entertainment: Sinatra, Ray Charles, Elton John…or George Jones. And who says I’m not broad-minded when it comes to singers…and music?